Hungry Hill: Daphne du Maurier Challenge

I had avoided reading Hungry Hill by Daphne du Maurier for a long time. Books covering many generations don’t appeal to me. I usually like a story centered around one main character. I picked up Hungry Hill at last for the Daphne du Maurier challenge hosted by Chrisbookarama, and was instantly absorbed. The writing is, unlike Maurier’s other novels, not in the first person-narrative form, but the more common third person.

Perhaps, what interested me was the fact, that although the novel covered five generations of an Irish family, each generation was linked to the Copper Mine built on Hungry Hill. Their lives are surrounded by misfortune even though their monetary strength can’t be challenged. Everyone in the Brodrick family is left unsatisfied in some way. They are all pursued by demons that won’t let them lead the life they try to build.

Who hasn’t felt alienated from the rest like poor young Johnnie? The feeling of being ‘different’ or ‘strange’ is one that we all at some point or another feel; if we don’t, we’re among the lucky ones. Then we have Hal who wants to be respected and loved by his father. He has inherited a feeling of impotence and inadequacy from his uncle Johnnie, who inherited it from his father John. Is their bad blood in the family or is the land trying to expel them? The curse of Hungry Hill devastates the Brodrick family, pursuing them relentlessly.

In the end, Hungry Hill is the land of the people. The Brodricks and the Donovans have fought over it for generations. Each generation faces its own struggle against the Hill and the Donovans. The Brodricks are interlopers on the land, and whereas they have money, they can never possess the spirit of the land.

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